For diehard Jewish fans of “The Simpsons,” a Mourner’s Kaddish will be in order at this weekend’s Yom Kippur services. Rabbi Hyman Krustofski, the father of the blue-haired Krusty the Clown (voiced by Jackie Mason, who won an Emmy in 1992 for the role), passed away on this Sunday’s episode, the show’s 26th season premiere.
The death ended a nearly year-long macabre mystery, when executive producer Al Jean announced in October 2013 that the show was planning to kill off a character for this year’s premiere.
Perhaps in honor of the rabbi’s death, the episode featured more than a few (fictional and real) tribe members — at least enough to make a minyan.
Real-life Jewish comedians Sarah Silverman and Jeff Ross voice two comics who hurl insults at Krusty during a Comedy Central-style roast. After the roast, Krusty seeks out his father for approval, who dies after telling him: “If you want to know my honest opinion of you, you’ve always been … eh.”
His father’s disappointment stings more than the insults from the notoriously acid-tongued Silverman, and Krusty spends the rest of the episode trying to reconcile with his father’s “eh” approval rating.
The episode culminates in a closing musical number with Krusty imagining a “Jewish Heaven.” We see dancing pairs of deceased Jews in the mythical afterlife: Albert Einstein with Golda Meir, Harpo Marx with Chico Marx, and Groucho Marx with Karl Marx. There’s even a brief sighting of another Jewish comedian: the late Joan Rivers.
Rivers guest starred in a 2011 Simpsons episode, and Al Jean decided to include her as a late addition to this episode, which had been in production for months.
“About a week after she passed away, I thought that it wouldn’t be hard for us to just put her in, because she had done the show and we had the design” for the character, Jean was reported saying in USA Today.
There may be no Jewish Heaven, but being immortalized in “The Simpsons” isn’t such a bad way to go out.